Archive for May, 2009

Poetry Friday: Poems by Olivia Varner

This week’s poems come from our editor Bill Varner’s daughter, Olivia.

This week my daughter Olivia, a newly minted ten-year-old and fourth grader, missed Author and Artist night at her school because she was sick. She wasn’t the only one who was disappointed. She’d written and illustrated two poems that she was to share. When her younger brother was on here a few weeks ago, she pleaded for me to post her poem entitled “My Brother’s Stinky Socks and Dirty Underwear,” but my editorial sense said “hmmmmm….not such a good idea.” For her brother.

Here are the two poems she was to read. One reminds me of one of my all-time favorites, John Lennon. That’s my girl!

Rain and What Comes After
By Olivia Varner

I am sitting here
watching rain drip, drop.
Drip, drop,
Go into puddles
I have an umbrella
Things are clearing up
A beautiful, outrageous,
Gorgeous thing, it’s, it’s
A rainbow

By Olivia Varner

Think if there was no such thing as life
No planets, human race, life, stars, space
Nothing, lifeless, gone.
And how did we get here anyway?
Did God make us?
We may never know;
It is a question mankind
may never find out.
I know it is scary.
But we do know we are here
And alive.

8 comments May 29th, 2009

In the Pipeline

Our editors are working on some exciting new titles for the summer and fall. Here is a quick preview of what’s in the works:

Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching Any Subject by Rick Wormeli
Metaphors have amazing utility in all subjects; they are as natural a learning tool in science, math, physical education, music, art, and history as they are in English. Shackles off, metaphors are ready to serve any teacher of any subject in any grade level.

A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing Nonfiction in the Primary Grades by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough
Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough suggest ways of creating a classroom environment where children are free to wonder, explore, and learn from the world around them.

What Student Writing Teaches Us: Formative Assessment in the Writing Workshop by Mark Overmeyer
In his new book, Mark shares ideas about how teachers and students can use assessment effectively in all stages of the writing process.

Think Small! Engaging Our Youngest Readers in Small Groups by Debbie Diller (DVD)
Debbie Diller guides small groups in a kindergarten and first-grade classroom.

You can sign up to receive notices when these books become available. Also watch this space for new books by Patrick Allen and Steve Layne.

1 comment May 27th, 2009

Quick Tip Tuesday: The Writing Life

Essays provide an opportunity for students to debate what is fact and what is fiction,” writes Kimberly Hill Campbell in her book, Less Is More: Teaching Literature with Shorts Texts, Grades 6-12. “They offer an alternative to those students who don’t embrace ‘stuff that isn’t real.’ Essays can also be used to teach specific reading skills such as locating information, summarizing ideas, and making connections among concepts,” Kimberly writes. In this weeks’ Quick Tip, Kimberly shows how she uses essays about writing in her classroom.

Essays About Writing
Writing is hard work. I think students need to know this. I want them to read about and understand the work of writing by reading essays about writing. In my own struggles to write, I have found comfort and inspiration in the words of people who share their insights about their own process of putting words on paper. It is not some magical process that just happens, at least it’s not for most writers.

I once imagined myself living the life of a writer: light spilled across me perched at an antique desk, a sturdy coffee mug in hand, with book-lined shelves surrounding windows looking out on the enormous backyard of my huge house, paid for by the royalties from my award-winning books. The real picture, as I write this book, is I am sitting in my dining room, which does have very nice windows, and it is cloudy outside. Books are strewn across the table and stacked on the floor. The timer on the dryer just buzzed so I have towels to fold. I always do laundry when I write. Something about the sorting process helps me sort out what I am trying to say. I have just a few hours before my kids get home from school, which will end my writing day. A cup of lukewarm coffee is sitting on a coaster near me. I always choose a coffee blend in support of my writing project. My rule is that I can drink this good coffee only if I am writing. What I need to learn is how to drink the good coffee while it is still warm.

I write on a laptop. Next to the laptop is a legal pad on which I scribble notes to myself about quotes I want to add or places I need to add more details. The room in which I write is quiet; music distracts me. When I get stuck, I find it helpful to read about writing. I particularly appreciate Donald Murray’s advice regarding voice and writing:”Most important of all voice. I do not begin to write until l hear the voice of the writing, and when that voice fades during drafting, rewriting/replanning, or revising, I stop, make myself quiet, and listen until I hear again. The music of the writing, more than anything else, teaches me what I am learning about the subject to make those thoughts and feelings clear. And when the writing doesn’t go well, the most effective tactic is to listen, quietly, carefully to the writing. If I listen closely enough the writing will tell me what to say and how to say it. As Jayne Anne Phillips says, ‘It’s like being led by a whisper.'” (1991,10)

Like many of you, I shared writers’ thoughts on writing with my students during writing workshop: Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (1994) is a personal favorite. But I was fortunate to stumble across several collections in which authors wrote essays about writing—the challenges, the joys, the process, the hard work. I found myself informed by their insights and tricks of the trade, inspired by their craft and oddly comforted by the fact that so many of the authors whose words I savored admitted to struggle in putting those words on paper. I realized students needed to see these essays, for their message and for their craft as essays.

Teaching Strategy: The Writing Life
Before they read about the writing life of others, I wanted my students to spend some time reflecting on their own writing life. I shared my own essay, which expanded on the brief description I included above about my writing life, and then invited students to write about their writing life: what discoveries have you made about what supports you as writers? Think about the places you write, the paper you use, your writing instrument of choice.

One of my students wrote that she prefers pencil; she likes the feel of the lead on paper and the way the words she writes look soft. Another student wanted roller ball, black ink pens, the expensive kind. My own daughter prefers gel pens and Hello Kitty notebook paper. Other students shared their frustration in having to handwrite; they prefer writing on computer. Many students spoke of their need for music while writing and the role of different songs in inspiring their writing.

I also encouraged students to think about the content of their writing—what inspires them? I was surprised and delighted to learn that the pictures I tore out of old calendars and posted on the classroom walls were a frequent source of inspiration, particularly the Monet prints. I also asked students to focus on the process of writing: the work of revision, editing, putting words on paper even when the words don’t feel right. I admitted to them that I don’t do much prewriting on paper. All those webs and outlines I see other writers use intrigue me, but they don’t help me.

I need time to let myself think, to percolate as Tom Romano calls it (often my head is percolating as I sort laundry), and then I write on a laptop computer, typing as quickly as I can. My typing teacher, Mrs. Moore, would be very proud of me. After we write about our own processes as writers, I invite students to share. We discover what makes us unique and what commonalities we all share. We then read an essay about writing. As we read, I ask students to note “ahas” about writing—what does this author say about writing? We focus on the same issues we explored in our own writing: place, equipment, inspiration, process. We share
our ahas in a class discussion. We then reread the essay, focusing our attention on the essay’s craft: how does the author convey his or her message?

I follow this whole-class read by asking students to choose from a variety of essays about writing. Using the same two-prong response, students first write in their literature logs about lessons learned from writers about writing and then note observations regarding the author’s craft.

Next students work in groups to create writing lesson posters for the classroom. They make visual the strategies and the words used to convey the strategies. I am always heartened to see students including their own quotes on these posters. And as we post them in the room, my hope is that they will provide inspiration and support my goal to create a community of writers, a place where students see themselves as writers and discover what they can learn from other writers. I want them to understand that the hard work of writing can inform and inspire readers. I want them to find essays about writing that they can turn to when they need to be reminded why we write. I want my students to see writing as work worth doing.

As for what essay I choose to read as a class, it depends. I try to select an essay written by an author we have previously read, or an essay that will make us laugh, or an essay that addresses an issue I know students are struggling with in their own writing. I used this same criteria in creating a selection of essays about writing from which students choose.

Add comment May 26th, 2009

Poetry Friday: What I Know About Epistemology

It is college — and pretty soon high school — graduation season. This week’s selection is one of those poems that captures just a bit of wisdom about life for graduates and for the rest of us.

What I Know About Epistemology
by John Surowiecki

As the light goes, go.
Be the rustling in the grass, the fall from
convention’s good graces: learn, or someone
will have you filing files or writing writs,
demonstrating cutlery or selling knowledge

door to door; someone might even drop
your lovely life into a factory and have you
derusting rings on the coolant-spouting
turntable of a vertical lathe.

Read the rest of the poem here

1 comment May 22nd, 2009

Questions & Authors: Getting parents involved

In the third installment of our Questions & Authors series with the authors of TeamWork: Setting the Standard for Collaborative Teaching, Grades 5-9, Kathryn Edmonds shares some strategies for getting parents involved in the life of a classroom. Revisit Amanda Mayeaux’s tips for keeping work and life in balance and Monique Wild’s advice on putting students in charge of their own learning.

Teachers often ask each other: “How do you get parents involved in your class or on your team?” Over the years of asking ourselves the same question at the start of every school year we found a few tricks that increased parent involvement that we discuss in chapter three of our book. Here are some quick tips to get you started:

  1. Whether the information is presented at a traditional open house or in before-school-starts letters home, offer a “menu” of choices of opportunities for parents to become involved. Be sure the menu has a wide variety of offerings for parents. These may include donations of supplies or treats for the classrooms, chaperoning for fieldtrips or school events, making classroom materials, and any other things you can do. Giving advanced notice of your involvement needs is always appreciated with working parents.
  2. Throughout the school year update your involvement needs list on the class/team website or newsletter.
  3. Thank you notes and shout-outs to those parents that contributed any amount of time, effort, and/or money, no matter how large or small, go a long way. As much as parents want to feel needed they also want to feel appreciated.
  4. Have the students do the inviting. Recorded voice messages from students and hand-made invitations are hard for parents to turn down!
  5. Offer parents the experience to share their college, career, or special talent knowledge with your class or team. Many parents, like their middle-school age children, enjoy sharing information and life experiences with others.

Add comment May 21st, 2009

Quick Tip Tuesday: Classroom rituals

In Becoming One Community, authors Kathleen Fay and Suzanne Whaley provide guidance for teachers whose classrooms include children who are just learning English. This week’s Quick Tip comes from Chapter 3 of their book, where they discuss how small classroom rituals and remembering each student’s name and its proper pronounciation creates a classroom community where all learners will thrive.

Ralph Peterson writes: It is not unusual in today’s classrooms to find three, five, and sometimes more cultures represented. Bringing students together as a group and nurturing tolerance for their ways and beliefs while celebrating their differences challenges the talents of the most experienced teachers. Teachers who make communities with their students are cultural engineers of sorts. The primary goal at the beginning of a new year or term is to lead students to come together, form a group, and be there for one another. (Peterson 1992, p. 13)

Peterson’s suggestion to create rituals of belonging and understanding is important in all classrooms, but it’s especially important in classrooms with English language learners, for two reasons. First, if the teacher considers how children participate and talk with one another, community-building activities can level the playing field so that each member of the class can realize that he or she is a valued contributor. ELL students will realize this of themselves, and—just as important—the non-ELL students in the class will also realize that English language learners are capable participants. The second reason is a simple one: when students participate in meaningful activities, English language understanding and speaking ability will improve.

Shannon Blaney’s class started a morning ritual when a new student, who spoke little English, arrived from Somalia. A few students spoke Arabic, and they taught the class the greeting “Salam Alaikum” and the response “Alaikum Salam,” which is used by Muslims everywhere, regardless of native language. The class decided to collect various ways to say “Good morning” and “Hello.” Shannon took the opportunity to create a new ritual to begin their mornings. For the first few days, they practiced saying all the greetings together as a group before individual students greeted each other, and sometimes they pulled down the map to see which countries might use that greeting. Eventually this ritual only took a few minutes, but they continued to do it every day.

Once the morning announcements were over, the ritual would begin. The class gathered on the rug in a circle. Shannon sat in the circle, quietly reminding students to move here and there so that no one was sitting outside the circle. When it was quiet, she would ask softly, “Would someone like to start?” On this particular day, Betsy raised her hand. She turned to Mariana at her left, shook hands, and said, “Buenos días, Mariana.” “Buenos días, Betsy,” came the reply. Mariana then turned to the student at her left and said, “Good morning, Abdirizak.” “Good morning, Mariana,” Abdirizak replied, giggling a little, looking at the list of greetings and then at his teacher. Shannon reassured him with a smile. Then Abdirizak turned to José: “Bonjour, José.” “Good morning, Abdirizak.” José turned to Jackie; he hesitated, then turned around to whisper with Abdirizak. When he turned to Jackie again he said, “Salam Alaikum, Jackie.” Jackie paused and looked at her teacher. “Al—Al—” Abdirizak whispered the response to her and she softly repeated, “Alaikum Salam.”

Acts as simple as saying hello or as complex as altering daily plans to make time for someone to share who ordinarily doesn’t speak up are ways teachers help to create a comfortable environment. But simply making time for such acts isn’t enough; you must believe that these acts are important, because your attitude will affect how you respond to children. Shannon’s ritual with her students teaches them to respect and communicate with each other, not just with her. She has made a conscious decision to give everyone an opportunity to participate.

“Your Name Is Important”

Our names are an important part of our identity, so being conscientious about using your students’ names is one way to begin to know them. Teachers of English language learners have to be particularly careful to take the time to learn how to say a child’s name correctly. Many of us have stories of someone calling us a nickname (one we like or one we don’t like) instead of our real name or mispronouncing our name. Our school secretary, Susan Litwin, came to the United States from Vietnam as a high school student. She told us about when and why her name was changed from Chau, the name her family gave her, to Susan. In her American high school her ESOL teacher read the class list and then told the students, “You each get to pick an American name.” She had some suggestions for them to pick from; in some cases she assigned a name: “We’ll call you Susan.” Occasionally I share this story with students if, for example, I am taking the time to learn how to pronounce a new student’s name. I want everyone to feel pride in his or her name. I don’t want kids to be passive abouttheir names, saying, “Sure, that’s fine,” with a shrug of the shoulders, when their name is mispronounced. The truth is, some names are difficult to pronounce exactly the way it is said by a native speaker. Some can hear the differences better than others—whether the language is English or something else. For example, my sister’s name is Erin, and I have a cousin named Aaron. In northern Virginia, both names are pronounced similarly (air-in). But my cousin is from New Jersey. We pronounce the Aa in his name like the a in at. We try to emphasize the difference to my brother-in-law Mike, who is from New Orleans, by saying both names over and over, exaggerating different parts. “Listen: Erin [air-in]. Now listen: Aaaaaaaaron.”

Mike cannot hear the difference. He thinks we’re nuts. It’s important not to joke or take the easy way out with children’s names, especially if the student is new to the school or has a particularly difficult name to pronounce. Thinking about Jorge in the poem by Jane Medina, I say to the students, “Your name is important. I want to say it the way you say it” or I’ll ask, “How does your family say it at home?” This lets everyone else in the class, as well as the child, know that respect for others starts with respect for their names. And children appreciate such respect.

I am working in Samantha Finney’s third-grade class. A new student has arrived since my last rotation. Samantha introduces Mahek to me as the kids gather on the rug. Once everyone is settled I want to review all the kids’ names. They are used to this ritual—it’s a little game I play, since I work in so many classes. The children love to see if I’ve forgotten their names, so I always start with my tricks (telling them all to say their name the first time, even if they know I know, so no one feels forgotten; searching the classroom for names on the wall; asking for the first letter as a hint). When I get to Mahek, the new student from Pakistan, I pause (I’ve already forgotten how to pronounce her name). I smile and tentatively say, “Mehok?” The other kids giggle and say it correctly for me. Mahek looks at me with wide eyes and a slight smile. I want to hear her name again, but from Mahek herself. I ignore the others and ask her, “Please tell me your name again.” Nothing. Someone yells out, “It’s Mahek!” I respond, “I want to hear how she says it,” and turn again to Mahek. I point to my chest and say, “My name is Ms. Fay. Ms. Fay. What is your name?” She says her name. The other kids by now have settled down. Then I try to say it and point to her again, and she says, “Mahek.” I say it a few more times to make sure I have it; Mahek nods. The next time I see Mahek is at our weekly third-grade sing-along. Her class is at the front of the group. I smile and whisper, “Good morning, Ma—Mah—?” I’ve forgotten how to say her name again! She whispers back, “Mahek.” “Good morning, Mahek.” “Good morning.” I whisper, “Ms. Fay.” She smiles. No one else notices our interaction, but Mahek is grinning from ear to ear. It’s as if she’s thinking, “She knows me.”

When I first met Mahek, I consciously tried to ignore the other students who wanted to help and focused my attention on Mahek herself. She can, of course, say her own name, and this is often the first opportunity for a teacher and a new ELL student to have a genuine, meaningful interaction. It’s easy to let a child’s shyness dictate our actions. I should note here, however, that if a child seems upset and looks away, I would not persist. Mahek was engaged, though, making eye contact with me and smiling, and during our interaction she successfully communicated with me. Also, the other students saw that I expected Mahek to be a participant in class—a subtle but powerful message in that simple initial interaction.

Add comment May 19th, 2009

Podcast: Using nonfiction to engage kids

“School situations should mirror what’s happening in the real world, and kids should be writing real-world stuff–they shouldn’t just be writing for their teachers…nonfiction opens up that range of possibilities.”

We recorded our latest Author Conversations podcast with Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli, authors of Nonfiction Mentor Texts, at the IRA Convention in Minneapolis. Listen as Lynne and Rose talk about how nonfiction engages kids and how mentor texts build on this engagement by showcasing the passion and voice of nonfiction authors in a wide range of genres.

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Add comment May 18th, 2009

Poetry Friday: What is Purple?

Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli use My Many Colored Days, Color Me a Rhyme, and My World of Color, along with other poetry books to help their students think about and make connections to colors in their own poetry. These poetry books help children think about colors not just as something they see, but something that also involves smells, sounds, tastes, and feelings.

In Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature K-6, Lynne and Rose share a poem created by a group of third-grade students about the color purple.

What is Purple?
Purple is a violet singing a sweet, sleepy lullabye.
It is the taste of grape jelly spread on warm wheat toast.
The purple smell is the night sky on April Fool’s Day.
Medicine trickling down your throat is a purple feeling.
Purple explodes in your mouth like Fourth of July fireworks.

The full moon on a misty May night has a purple glow.
Purple is a forgetful two-year-old with a mind of his own.
It is the shy feeling that hides deep inside your heart.

Also check out Lynne and Rose’s new book, Nonfiction Mentor Texts: Teaching Informational Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-8.

1 comment May 15th, 2009

Article: Emancipating the English Language Learner

“As you cooraptoriliate these words, make sure you flimp the scoglottora in proper schimliturn. You will only understand this column if hickitow glisps in baggaduanation. Use your joomering and begin.


In the April issue of Middle Ground Magazine, Rick Wormeli describes how ELL students feel when faced with a text they don’t understand and how teachers sometimes may make the situation worse by supplying a remedial magazine or book for second language learners.

“We need to be mindful of the emotions at play when asking students to do all this thinking aloud in a language and culture foreign to their own. Students are stressed not only about learning a new academic concept, but also about having to adjust to different cultural expectations in which they may not succeed,” writes Rick.

Read this great article where Rick offers simple strategies and some common sense responses to help ELL students learn and thrive in any classroom.

To find out when Rick’s new book about teaching with metaphors becomes available, click here!

Add comment May 14th, 2009

Quick Tip Tuesday: Building Stamina

This week’s Quick Tip comes from Max Brand and Gayle Brand, authors of Practical Fluency: Classroom Persepectives, Grades K-6. Max and Gayle have worked together with students and colleagues for many years to discover the most effective whole-class, small-group, and individual strategies and activities for building both reading and writing fluency.  They give us a glimpse into their classrooms to show how short bursts of learning help students build stamina that enables them to become fluent readers.

Short Bursts for Building Stamina

I can still remember my first experience in organized sports, freshman basketball. We had a wonderful coach, Mr. Orr, who left a lasting impression on my thinking and teaching. Coach Orr had an uncanny ability to motivate us and get the team to overachieve by demonstrating basic skills (shooting, dribbling, and passing). He provided constant feedback that was specifi c, so that we could continue to build skills and develop as team players. Coach Orr expected our team to achieve at a high level, and we did. Our successes were celebrated, no matter how small, which brought us together as a team and motivated us to work harder.

The most memorable lessons were the drills to build stamina; “killers” we fondly named them. We would begin and end practice with forty-eight ticks on the scoreboard clock. The team had to complete a series of sprints in this amount of time or challenge ourselves again. These sprints were designed to help us build stamina, developing endurance for our ultimate test, game day. Thinking back now, practice moved at a brisk pace, and most skillbuilding drills were completed in a short period of time. This was done to keep us focused on the skill and use time efficiently so that we could scrimmage and become automatic with the skills while playing basketball.

When I think about planning for fluency instruction, the structure of basketball practice influences my thinking. I work with my students in short bursts of learning, consolidating skills and strategies that lead to fluency and building students’ reading and writing stamina. As teachers, we need to plan for short bursts of learning that enable students to build stamina and become fluent readers and writers.

Gayle and I plan for these short bursts of instruction by first thinking about the skill, then which instructional setting (whole class, small group, or individual) will allow our students to learn and practice this skill. Automaticity with word recognition, spelling, and writing on demand are areas of instruction we target during short, focused lessons. The skills learned during these sessions allow our students to read for extended periods of time during reading workshop and sustain their writing for long stretches during writing workshop.

When planning for fluency instruction, we look for opportunities to foster students’ automaticity with print, increase their reading rate, and read in meaningful phrased units. Richard Allington (2001, p. 75) reminds us that “providing children access with appropriately leveled texts and a noninterruptive reading environment typically produces profound changes in reading fluency and self-monitoring.”

Of course, there isn’t any right time to teach fluency. Instead, you have to look at your daily schedule and consciously plan for fl uency while seizing teachable moments to stress the importance of fluency instruction. Brief fluency lessons occur during content studies and reading or writing workshops. Prior to these lessons, Gayle and I have informally assessed our students, found a specifi c focus for fluency instruction, and then decided which grouping structure would help us effectively and effi ciently support our students. We have found that working within the context of our thematic studies or workshops allows students to quickly practice skills and then use them for purposeful reading or writing. Gayle and I adopted this thinking after reading Stanovich’s seminal article (1980), “Toward an Interactive-Compensatory Model of Individual Differences in the Development of Reading Fluency.” We want to build fluency skills so that our students can keep pace with their peers, think about the same content, and use most of the workshop time for personal, purposeful reading and writing.

Gayle’s students scatter about the classroom, using the entire space for personal reading during independent reading time. As the students leave the meeting area, Gayle reminds them to use punctuation to guide their voices, a fluency concept she has demonstrated while reading aloud The Other Side.

Some students have been reading quickly, not fluently. They read through punctuation, sometimes getting confused because one idea runs into the next or the intended meaning was altered. This will be the focus for her individual conferences. The small-group work will continue its thread of reading punctuation but will also extend to a word-solving strategy. Gayle wants her students to use repetitive patterns and the local context of the sentence to predict unknown words. She wants them to cue on the fi rst letter(s) as they anticipate the next word, developing automaticity with print.

Gayle will mask a handful of words in the big book, Oh No! (Cairns 1987) She will mask the word spot, a repetitive word in the text. She will reveal the s and p, covering the rest of the word with a sticky note. She will mask this word on pages 4 and 6, knowing that students will have had an opportunity to read and internalize the pattern of this text. She will mask dress on page 10 and place on page 16, allowing students to use the meaning and structure of the text and picture to predict these words. Ellie, John, Seth, Tommy, and Alya will work together with Gayle in this flexible group.

Gayle will begin this short lesson with the students writing five frequent words on wipe-off boards. She wants to build the students speed in knowing these words that appear on the word wall. Then she prompts the group to write the high frequency word see at the top of their wipe-off board, underline the s, and then write words that begin with s. The group generates high frequency words so, saw, and she, copying from the word wall. They also independently come up with sat, sand, sad, set, sit, Seth, and Stephanie. Gayle brings closure to this segment of her lesson by prompting the kids to write seen and seed. The students easily add the final consonants, laughing that they should have remembered these words. The students read the big book with masked words and after about seven minutes, find their own places in the classroom to read independently.

Gayle scans the room noting where individuals and small groups are reading. She spots Sam sitting at a table by himself reading Henry and Mudge in Puddle Trouble. She makes her way over to the table, pulls up a chair alongside him and without asking, he reads orally from the middle of page 19. The text challenges Sam because he wants to read the line of text as a phrase. Gayle says, “Sam I like how you’re reading the line of words together, listen to how I read the idea.” Gayle reads, “One blue petal fell from his mouth into Henry’s hand,” from the book. “You didn’t stop at the end of the line, Mrs. Brand,” Sam comments. Sam reads to the end of the chapter similar to Gayle’s model. He reflects, “I didn’t have to reread so much, it was easier to follow the text.”

Reading workshop ends with students sharing about how they used punctuation to understand their reading. Ellie, Seth, John, Tommy, and Alya share that while reading Oh No! there are red letters and an exclamation point to tell them how to read the line. They think they should be reading them with voices that convey something is wrong, not just excitement. The students move next to word study. The group will work on making words with magnetic letters from the rime, eat.

I will also nurture fluency development by bringing Matt, T.J., Alyssa, and Alex together as a group. I will use shared reading to reading with them the Time for Kids article, “Saving Our National Parks.” I will demonstrate fluent reading by pausing and thinking about big ideas. I will begin by reading the title and subtitles and reading captions while looking at pictures. I will think out loud about what I think this article will teach me.

My reading begins by stating my purpose for reading. My purpose for reading this article is to fi nd out how we can save our national parks. The reason this is my purpose is because I noticed the subtitle, “What Can Be Done.” I record this on the chart and begin reading. I read the article while the group follows along. Students stop me to reread sections or record important information on the chart. I bring closure to the lesson by asking the kids what they noticed. “I need to spend more time looking at what I’m going to read before reading it,” Matt comments. Alyssa reflects, “You read to the end of the sentence before stopping, not the end of the line. I need to look for periods and question marks.” T.J. reports, “I’m going to write a purpose now when I read. This will help me focus on why I’m reading. I won’t stop so much.”

The students join the rest of their classmates, sharing what they learned about national parks and reading fl uently. As a class, we debrief our reading by writing a summary about national parks’ renewable resources. We use shared writing to write this summary. While rereading the summary, we discuss punctuation and fluent reading. The discussion reinforces the day’s fluency thinking.

Add comment May 12th, 2009

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